My Daddy is Dead, But I Can't Tell You How - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


Percy B. Green gives this variation of the song in A History of Nursery Rhymes (1899):

My father he died, I cannot tell how,
He left me six horses to drive out my plough,
With a wimmy lo! wommy lo!
Jack Straw, blazey boys.
Wimmy lo! wimmy lo! wob, wob, wob.

Green goes on to talk about this song being very old, "Mr. Halliwell dates it as of Richard II.'s time [note: Richard II was King from 1377 - 1399], and this much may be said for this opinion, that there is no greater authority than he on the subject of early English rhymes and carols. Mr. Halliwell also believes that of British nursery rhymes it is the earliest extant. There are those, however, who dissent from this view, holding that many of the child's songs sung to-day were known to our Saxon forefathers."

Here's what Halliwell said about this rhyme in "The Nursery Rhymes of England" (1842): "The following version of a popular rhyme is in one of Douce's books. I consider it to refer to the rebellious times of Richard II." Then Halliwell gives the version just above. (Jack Straw led a peasant rebellion against Richard II in 1381.)


Sheet Music

Sheet Music - My Daddy is Dead, But I Can't Tell You How

Thanks and Acknowledgements

The illustration and first version of the song, the score and tune all come from The Baby's Opera by Walter Crane (1877).